Strategy and Vision
The last piece of the Product Management role spans all three disciplines. The Product Manager maintains and develops an internal vision of the space and product.
This strategy should take into account all of the areas of the product. It should involve a concept of who the customer is and what they need. It should include an understanding of what the business goals are, how to achieve them, and how competitors play in. It should consider technical differentiation and limitations of the product, as well as how to maintain and address them.
The Product Manager does not set the fundamental vision. The founders of the company set the vision at the highest level. The Product Manager is responsible for spending enough time with the founders to internalize their vision. The level of detail provided will vary depending on the founders and their background. It may be that the founders specify what their dream for the company in five years is, and then the PM figures out what products will help the company get there. It might be that the founder has just as specific a vision as the PM does.
If the Product Manager disagrees with the founders about vision, there will be tension within the company. When disagreement occurs, the PM is responsible for understanding why the founders disagree and how their underlying assumptions differ. The PM should start from a point of inquiry; the worst thing a PM can do is attempt to convince the founders that they are wrong before understanding. Moreover, the Product Manager should never attempt to lead a separate vision within the company.
When the PM does have a vision that aligns with the founder’s vision, they’re responsible for championing it throughout the company. They write longer-term roadmaps for what needs to be built to align with the vision, in addition to taking into account user and business needs.
They should also be a resource for everyone within the company. The Product Manager should always be well-versed enough to discuss an issue with any employee, even if it requires more research.
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